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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 June, 2004, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Saddam 'very nervous' at handover
Saddam Hussein after his capture
Saddam had lost weight, Chalabi said
Saddam Hussein was "visibly nervous" when he was transferred to Iraqi legal custody, the head of the Special Tribunal set up to try him has said.

"He was nervous, very nervous, because he did not know what was happening," Salam Chalabi told ABC television.

Mr Chalabi said Saddam Hussein had lost weight and no longer had the bushy beard he was seen with in a video after his capture in December, last year.

The former leader will face a court on Thursday to hear charges against him.

In another interview, with Reuters news agency, Mr Chalabi, who was present at Saddam Hussein's handover on Wednesday, said the former Iraqi ruler said "Good morning" and "asked if he could ask some questions.

"I think they had to do with whether he would have the right to counsel.

"He was told he should wait until tomorrow [Thursday]," he said.

Lesser figure

Mr Chalabi told American television that the handover was "a surreal experience".

He was not the towering figure that one used to see on TV before
Salam Chalabi, tribunal lawyer
He said Saddam Hussein was not shackled when he appeared before the judge.

He said Saddam Hussein's appearance had changed since the world saw him undergo a medical inspection on a video following his capture.

"We first saw Saddam Hussein and he had lost weight. He was not the towering figure that one used to see on TV before. He was nervous, very nervous, because he did not know what was happening.

Mr Chalabi said Saddam Hussein was wearing Arab dress and that his hair was "a bit long" and "black, not grey", as it appeared in the video.

Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali, was among 11 other former members of Saddam Hussein's regime who were handed over for trial at the same time.

"He looked very scared. He was shaking," said Mr Chalabi.

The BBC's Orla Guerin
"Saddam was read his rights and transferred to Iraqi legal custody"

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